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House of Fraser departures reveal cracks in own brand

The shake-up at House of Fraser’s womenswear team is expected to see a shift in the way the department store runs both concessions and own-brand.

Industry sources have suggested that House of Fraser has been struggling to drive its own-label offering. It is thought that the redundancies preface a review of the current strategy.

As Drapers revealed this week, Marie Jones, design director of womenswear accessories, and Sue Dunn, the businesses’ concessions director for womenswear, have been made redundant amid a shake-up of the womenswear division under new executive director Allan Winstanley.

The pair have been at House of Fraser for three and 16 years respectively.  

Industry insiders have been quick to point out that the departures come on the back of poor performance across House of Fraser’s own-brand womenswear offer, which includes labels such as Linea, Therapy and Label Lab.

A representative from one womenswear retailer, which operates concessions in House of Fraser said figures that had been circulated revealed own label was “struggling”.

Another industry insider said: “Shoppers go in to House of Fraser to buy known high street brands, not to buy the likes of Linea and those in-house brands.

“It is stuck in a no-man’s-land between Debenhams, which known as being a discounter, and John Lewis, which is consistently performing well.”

Away from own-label, the departures are thought to spell a change in the way the department store structures its concessions business.

Two sources familiar with the business told Drapers House of Fraser was planning to put concessions back under the relevant buyers in each department.

The departures of Jones and Dunn are the first major changes to be made to the womenswear team under Winstanley, who was promoted to the role of executive director of womenswear, accessories, beauty and visual on September 14.

Formerly executive director of menswear and kidswear at House of Fraser, Winstanley took on the womenswear role from Stephanie Chen who left the business in September to join Marks & Spencer as director of kidswear and home in March 2013.

House of Fraser declined to comment.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Marie Jones was a terrible choice as Design Director for own brands. Lets hope that Winstanley will be the driving force that the beleaguered own brands are screaming out for.

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